1.) Boston Celtics – The acquisition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the off-season by the Celtics is evidently paying off for coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge. Holding a sizeable lead in the standings over all the teams in the league means a home-court advantage throughout the festivities on April up until June when a new champion reigns. Garnett will undoubtedly takeover the leadership role from Paul Pierce and his intensity will be the key to the Celtics success. If the team can stay relatively healthy and play together with their newly signed players in veterans PJ Brown and Sam Cassel, then they have the chance to go all the way.
2.) Detroit Pistons—The Pistons are still the team to beat in the East. With a solid starting line-up and a clearly developing bench, they will prove to be a tough match for any opponent in a seven game series both in the East and out West. Chauncey Billups will handle the leadership responsibilities and his cast of play-off savvy veterans like Richard Hamilton, Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince will provide ample support. Expect a Pistons versus the Celtics East finals but not before a fight from the next two teams in the league.
3.) Orlando Magic – This team is the darkhorse in the East. Any team with All-star and Slam Dunk king champion Dwight Howard manning the middle will always have a fighting chance against the better teams in the league. Another factor going for the Magic is the gigantic improvement of forward Hedo Torkuglo from a dependable player into an all-star caliber forward this year. The 6’-10” Torkuglo handles the rack most of the time and is the key initiator to the Magic offense. He can see the court pretty well with his height and his three point shooting makes him a unique asset. With the addition of Rashard Lewis and a possible comeback of Toni Battie on the play-offs, the Magic are primed for an upset.
4.) Cleveland Cavaliers – The defending Eastern Conference champions Cleveland Cavaliers are on a tough spot. After a dismal start, they decided to break up their roster and trade for marginal players in the league. But with Lebron James, anything is absolutely possible, something which he proved last year. If their key players such as Bobie Gibson, Z Ilgauskus and Sasha Pavlovic could return to favorable health, then the Cavs are poised to hit another run and make a serious attempt for the division crown again this year with LBJ at the helm.
The remaining teams in the Eastern conference holds no real chance of getting out of the first round. The Washington Wizards if healthy can certainly make a run at it but will prove to be futile as the case the last couple of years. The Toronto Raptors are too inconsistent and young to be considered contenders this year while the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets and the Atlanta Hawks are their to complete the cast.